Pharmacy is undergoing a time of significant opportunity, says Dr Claire O’Reilly, who has just become the first pharmacist to be appointed to the Medical Services Advisory Committee.
The MSAC advises the Federal Government on evidence for the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of medical technologies and procedures.
Under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, the MSAC will also provide advice to the Government on the cost-effectiveness of new and continuing community pharmacy programs.
As part of her new role, Dr O’Reilly has also been appointed to the Trials Advisory Group – an independent, expert advisory committee to advise to the Government on the development and implementation of trials under the Pharmacy Trials Program.
“There’s no doubt that it’s a challenging time for the industry, but this is also a time of significant opportunity and I think there’s a lot of things progressing at the moment that are separate to the Agreement,” Dr O’Reilly, a Sydney-based community pharmacist and lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Pharmacy Faculty told the AJP.
“We’ve got pharmacists in GP practices, pharmacists doing immunisation in almost every state – I think this is fantastic and a significant progression of the role of the pharmacist in these recent years.
“There’s also a number of opportunities through the Pharmacy Trial Program and 6CPA, and we’ve a lot of evidence already about how pharmacy can contribute as part of the health team – now it’s about how to implement that on a larger scale and become recognised by consumers as a place to go for a variety of health issues.
“That recognition is starting to shift already.”
Initiatives such as a Minor Ailment Scheme would help establish procedures for a lot of the work pharmacists are already doing, Dr O’Reilly told the AJP.
“Pharmacy’s already doing a lot of that, as it’s the first port of call and we do a lot of triage work; to date in Australia, though, that hasn’t been done in a structured way with the right reimbursement model around it. It’s certainly an area to progress in.”
Dr O’Reilly says she’s “thrilled” to have been appointed by Health Minister Sussan Ley to MSAC.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity to sit on MSAC, which is a group of leading experts in various medical specialities and other specialities across Australia – to be able to represent pharmacy at that table at that level and advise the Minister on cost-effectiveness, on the evidence base related to pharmacy services – it’s a fantastic opportunity.
“And I’d encourage pharmacists to try and embrace the opportunities that are coming up for them and showcase the fact that pharmacists can have a positive impact as part of the health care system.”
PSA National President Joe Demarte congratulated Dr O’Reilly on her historic appointment, saying it was a testament to her hard work in community pharmacy over recent years.
“Dr O’Reilly is well-known and respected among Australia’s pharmacist community, especially from her tireless work in addressing health professionals’ stigma to mental illness and in developing the role of the pharmacist as part of a multidisciplinary mental health care team,” Mr Demarte said.